Friday, 25 April 2014

'Parklife' Day: Blur's 'Parklife' 20 years on

Today is a landmark day in my life. A day that has made me feel my age. The day that THE album of my generation turns twenty years old. Blur's seminal 'Parklife' was released on April 25, 1994. In celebration of this, today will be 'Parklife' Day on RW/FF.

I discovered Blur in early 1994. John Hanson was one of my Dad's friends, and me and my brother often used to go out on day trips with him and his son Wilf. That's where I first heard Julian Cope and Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' album being played in his car. He also played a lot of music by a singer called Matthew Sweet, one of Mick Jagger's solo albums and more importantly an Essex band called Blur. They had released an excellent album called 'Modern Life Is Rubbish', and something about these songs struck me. It was smart, intelligent and very catchy indeed. Every note appealed to me in a major way, and I was fully aware what I was hearing was a work of genius. I didn't know it at the time, but lots of others were also discovering how awesome this band were, and something was beginning to happen. Something that would soon change the direction of popular music and inspire a generation of people to form bands...


In February 1995 the same group sensationally swept the board at that year's memorable Brit Awards. You could feel the excitement everywhere, and there was a sense that this group had set a new standard. It felt like this was how things were going to be from then on. It was too good NOT for it to stay that way. Well, that's how it felt at the time anyway. The day after the Brits, the band were household names as well as critic's favourites, and became part of the British culture that had inspired 'Parklife'. I had a recorded copy of it on tape, but this was undoubtedly THE album of the time. So essential that I NEEDED to own a proper copy, and indeed I did end up owning one, purchased on cassette from WH Smith's in Swindon. From what I can remember, I also bought the Simple Minds single 'She's A River', which I probably got because I might have had a pound left after buying Parklife. I can't think of why else I would have bought it at the time, since I didn't have a clue who Simple Minds were.

'Parklife' continued 'Modern Life...''s unmistakably British approach and took it to the next level. There were the instantly infectious hits like 'Girls And Boys' and 'Parklife', stunning moments of reflection such as 'Badhead' and 'To The End' as well as the enjoyably mental likes of 'Jubilee' and 'Bank Holiday'. The album perfectly defined English culture, painting musical pictures of typical British places and a range of eccentric characters. It would be the album that kickstarted the Britpop revolution and transformed Blur into household names.


I was lucky enough to be around as Britpop was on its way to becoming the most phenomenal musical movement in years. As a ten year old kid, it seemed even more thrilling to me. And it all happened at just the right time to influence my life in a massive way...

20 years later, and whenever I hear that intro to 'Girls And Boys', the same excitement happens. It's the same now as it was two decades ago, and still sends shivers down the spine. Knowing that what was to follow would be a truly special time. THE sound of something BIG announcing its arrival. Before 'Parklife' was released, I was keen on Bowie and The Beatles, but there didn't seem to be any great present-day bands around who represented MY generation. If it wasn't for 'Parklife', British alternative guitar music might not have become such a big part of the mainstream. If that didn't happen, I probably wouldn't have discovered the joys of indie and wouldn't have become such a massive music lover. It put me on a path that led to lots of other paths, and I have Damon Albarn and Blur to thank for that. Cheers boys.

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